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A Fortnightly Review.

Operation Violet Oak: A story of false accusation
by Stephen Glascoe

Seren | 260 pp | $15.75 £ 8.19



IN THE SUMMER of 2016, a person whose name must remain unmentioned to this day, accused Dr Stephen Glascoe, a retired general practitioner, of being a member of a historical child abuse ring in Cardiff. Glascoe was always a lively character, in a creative circle of friends, definitely not a square – and even this served to discredit him. It is important here to note that as part of the victim compensation scheme, as it operated at the time, the accuser received twenty thousand pounds for her accusation, which was also levelled at four other men, each lurid indictment differing in certain particulars. When the case came before a judge in June 2017, the judge dismissed any request for the names of those accused not to be divulged. There is an inalienable right, he said, for the public to be made aware of the names and alleged offences of the accused. Continue reading “J’accuse…injustement.” »

We need to talk about Vladimir.

Must Ukraine really exist?


THE QUESTION OF Ukrainian existence may seem surprising right now, given that thousands of people are currently fighting and dying for just such a place, while some five million people carrying Ukrainian passports, often speaking Ukrainian and saying they are from Ukraine are currently refugees in other countries.1 Meanwhile, seven million more Ukrainians have been internally displaced by nearly four months of brutal fighting, according to the UNCHR. Continue reading “We need to talk about Vladimir.” »



NOTE: In The Fortnightly’s online template, illustrations are thumbnails with captions or onward text links embedded. To enlarge an illustration, click on it. To read a caption, hover over the illustration. To play an embedded video in a larger size, click ‘full screen’ option. ‘Esc’ returns you here.

A FEW YEARS ago, I visited Aquileia, an ancient Roman city in Italy, at the top of the Adriatic and at the edge of its lagoons. It is now about six miles from the sea, on the river Natisone, the course of which has changed since Roman times. Today, it is little more than a village, but Aquileia was prominent in classical antiquity; indeed it was one of the world’s largest cities with a population of 100,000 in the 2nd century AD. Aquileia’s Patriarchal Basilica was built c. 1000 on the site of an earlier church, and it is a magnificent building with its entire floor covered with fourth-century mosaics depicting Biblical events such as Jonah being eaten by a monster the artists imagined might be a whale. In the crypt, archaeologists have discovered earlier, pagan mosaics which the Christian foundations broke apart, or the Biblical tesserae covered in the manner of a palimpsest. Continue reading “Martyrdom.” »

In Famagusta.


And who can make himself heard?
Each dreams alone without hearing the other’s nightmare.

— George Seferis, Salamis in Cyprus, 1955.

BOXED UP FOR months in the dank, tight bastions of medieval Famagusta with an Ottoman Turkish attack expected any day, Shakespeare’s Othello famously undergoes a psychomachia – a ‘soul struggle’ – his mind slowly degenerating into murderous passion. Continue reading “In Famagusta.” »

Considering ‘The Young American Writers’ anthology, fifty-five years later.


ON THE FIRST of January 1967, Funk & Wagnalls, the venerable dictionary publisher, issued, during its short-lived trade adventure, an anthology edited by me titled The Young American Writers. The contents were my selections from the poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism of literary writers born after 1935 and thus aged thirty-one or less in the year of the book’s publication. As far as I can tell, it was the first anthology devoted exclusively to Americans below a certain age. This fact surprises me, as the move was editorially obvious. The following year appeared a much bigger book, The Young American Poets, edited by Paul Carroll, a Chicago poet who was more than a dozen years older than me and thus most of his contributors. Though several anthologies of younger American writers have appeared since, none known to me has mentioned either the Paul Carroll book or mine. Continue reading “Considering ‘The Young American Writers’ anthology, fifty-five years later.” »

Birds & bones on PBS

Two nova documentaries, reviewed.


1.bird brains.

MODERN THOUGHT HAS tended to minimize differences between the mentality of humans and that of species regarded historically as belonging to the “lower” creation. This may have been in some measure a consequence of all-men-are-created-equal, democratic thinking spilling over into the study of species. Continue reading “Birds & bones on PBS” »

From the Brooklyn-Queens Border, 22 April-17 May 2020.




Prefatory note: When I wrote the text below in May 2020, I offered it to publications that had previously supported me. None of them accepted it.  As some of my observations have since gained wider acceptance, I offer it now, under the implicit assumption of understanding how obvious now seem conclusions that were unacceptable then. Continue reading “From the Brooklyn-Queens Border, 22 April-17 May 2020.” »

Conformity, censorship and oppression.

From GLENN GREENWALD ·[]· — There are times when powers of repression and censorship are aimed more at the left and times when they are aimed more at the right, but it is neither inherently a left-wing nor a right-wing tactic. It is a ruling class tactic, and it will be deployed against anyone perceived to be a dissident to ruling class interests and orthodoxies no matter where on the ideological spectrum they reside… Continue reading “Conformity, censorship and oppression.” »

Against Pound.




Here is a partial list of some of the things I do not know much about. Continue reading “Against Pound.” »

Making sense of the coronavirus.


COVID-19 CAN be a very nasty illness. A friend of mine died from it two weeks ago. Possibly her lungs were not strong; she used to smoke and had suffered from lung cancer. It is still a shock. Continue reading “Making sense of the coronavirus.” »

There are more than 170,000 words in the English language.

From DAVID P. BARASH [Wall Street Journal] – ‘Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., is one of our most distinguished Woggle-Bugs, a physician and sociologist, director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science, Internal Medicine and Biomedical Engineering. Continue reading “There are more than 170,000 words in the English language.” »

The flowering of cheap gumshoe journalism in America.

By MATTHEW WALTHER [The Week] — The quantity of information about people on the internet and various media archives is virtually unlimited. It is also more or less accessible, if you want it to be. It is now possible to bring to bear upon such pressing questions as the relative wokeness of extemporized comic routines performed by various cable news anchors between the year Green Day released American Idiot and the appearance of the first Vox explainer on Pizza Rat the sort of scrutiny once applied only to mainstream presidential candidates. Continue reading “The flowering of cheap gumshoe journalism in America.” »

Butchering the language in Rwanda.


DO NOT MESS with the French language. At the quai d’Orsay, diplomats consider the zealous defense of their tongue a cornerstone of their mission. Among all the markers of culture and nationhood — food, music, religion, literature, even forms of government — the people of France hold up their particular dialect of Latin as the supreme valuation of what it means to be French, especially outside the hexagon of the home country. Continue reading “Butchering the language in Rwanda.” »

A respectable case for Brexit.


MY REMAINER FRIENDS complain bitterly about Brexit, about how the public were deceived by the Brexiteers, but there is a perfectly respectable case for wanting to leave the EU, one that is not nasty nor xenophobic.
Continue reading “A respectable case for Brexit.” »

The meaning of a match: Les Herbiers vs PSG, 08.05.18.

By JAKE SANDY [Onside View]—In a story that sounds like the plot of a Hollywood film, Les Herbiers VF, a French third division team have set-up a Coupe de France final tie against the footballing behemoth that is Paris Saint-GermainContinue reading “The meaning of a match: Les Herbiers vs PSG, 08.05.18.” »